BY THE BOOK: Muthoni wa Gichuru

Muthoni wa Gichuru is a Kenyan author who has written a number of children’s books, published young adult fictional titles as well as winning the Burt Award for African writing, 2016. PHOTO| COURTESY

What you need to know:

  • Muthoni also writes short stories which have been published in Fresh Paint Volume 2 and Moonscapes. She was shortlisted for the commonwealth Short Story Prize 2015 for her story The Itch.
  • Njoroge na Mubara Wake – I read it while in standard one. It was about a boy who gets injured while pushing something like a tyre and ends up in hospital. I thought then it would be so much fun to have my leg in cast and have people visit me.
  • They are many but if I was to choose one, I would go for I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings – Such thoughtfulness, such delicacy in writing, such feeling.

Muthoni wa Gichuru is a Kenyan author who has written a number of children’s books. She has also published young adult fictional titles like Breaking the Silence which was the first runner up for the Jomo Kenyatta Literature Prize with The Hidden Package, winner of the Burt Award for African writing, 2016.

Muthoni also writes short stories which have been published in Fresh Paint Volume 2 and Moonscapes. She was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize 2015 for her story The Itch.

Which one book do you hold so dear that it can’t possibly be lent out?

I don’t really have a book that I would not lend. I have lent out books and lived to regret though. I gave out my copies of The Thorn Birds and The Colour of Water and never got them back.

What is your favourite childhood book?

Njoroge na Mubara Wake – I read it while in standard one. It was about a boy who gets injured while pushing something like a tyre and ends up in hospital. I thought then it would be so much fun to have my leg in cast and have people visit me.

Who is your literary crush? (Not a book character but a real person you admire in the lit world).

Maya Angelou. Unfortunately though, she is dead! Angelou remains the one person that I would really have liked to spend some time with. I have always felt that she is the kind of person that one would have deep and meaningful discourses with.

What’s your greatest fear?

To die before my children are all grown up.

Most embarrassing writing mistake ever?

Preaching to readers. In my first manuscript, I had a whole page of what should and should not be done. Fortunately, I deleted the bit before the book was published.

If you were to dine with three writers dead or alive, who would they be and why?

Maya Angelou, Colleen McCullough and Jennifer Makumbi. I love the depth of Maya’s writing, the quirkiness of McCullough and the delightfulness of Makumbi’s style and turn of phrase. So those three would be perfect to dine with.

Tell us the most unforgettable character from a book you have read?

Wodu Wakiri from The Concubine.

Which book do you wish you had written and why?

They are many but if I was to choose one, I would go for I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings – Such thoughtfulness, such delicacy in writing, such feeling.

What is the greatest craft sin you have ever committed?

Not finishing a piece I have started, poor characterisation…Oh they are many and I continue making them but I am also learning.

If you were sent off to Robben Island for a year, which three books would you take with you?

Difficult question! So many books! The Thorn Birds, Kintu and Redemption by Leon Uris.

If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?

A musician without doubt! I love music though I can’t sing. Music takes me places that only reading a good book takes me.

Any other interesting thing you’ve always wanted to tell readers?

I love comedy. Not the Mr. Bean type but the sitcom type of comedy. The play of words, the funny situations.

BY THE BOOK is a literary series that covers authors, bloggers, actors, academics and poets of note in the African continent. For comments or inquiries, e-mail: [email protected]

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